Training workshop for healthcare workers on alleviating abortion stigma and providing compassionate healthcare services
Building the capacity of healthcare workers to provide compassionate
post-abortion healthcare services
Induced abortion is a crime in Cameroon punishable by law (section 337 of penal code). However, it is permitted in cases where the woman’s life is at risk, on the grounds of rape or incest, but it must be conducted according to the procedure elaborated in the legal instrument. According to literature, unsafe abortions accounts for about 13% of maternal deaths in Cameroon (worsening the already high maternal mortality rate – 782 deaths/100,000 live births). Besides, 15-20% of all pregnancies will end in spontaneous abortion (miscarriage).
Considering, the significant contribution of unsafe abortions to maternal mortality (which can be averted by meeting the contraceptive needs of women in Cameroon); the present socio-political crises in the region and the vulnerability of girls and women to sexual assault/violence; the fact that not every woman presenting in a health facility with vagina bleeding has had an induced abortion, health workers need to be equipped with knowledge and skills to enable them to provide compassionate healthcare services to victims who seek post-abortion care.
It is on this premise that the FALCOH Foundation, with the support of her partner, ‘inroads Foundation’, organised a training workshop for health workers (nurses, midwives) on “Alleviating abortion stigma and improving compassionate post-abortion care in the SWR of Cameroon”.
The participants who were selected from some public health centres/private clinics in rural communities in the SWR appreciated the content of the workshop and express the desire to participate in other trainings such as providing appropriate care to malnourished children and pregnant women. The workshop brought together over 30 health workers who were mainly chiefs of health centres in rural and semi-urban communities in the South West Region of Cameroon.
The session were very interactive and characterised by power point presentations, group discussions, group presentations and question and answer sessions.
In crises situations like what we are experiencing in our region, compassion is the common thread that should guide the clinical, psychosocial and rehabilitative healthcare services that we offer to affected populations and vulnerable groups.
At the end of the training, participants were provided with a Trainer's Manual which has been developed by the FALCOH medical team. This manual elaborated most of the content in the training workshop such as the situation of abortion within the Cameroon law, ethics in clinical practice, abortion stigma and how to alleviate it, post-abortion care including psycho-social support and how to provide compassionate healthcare services in our health facilities.
The FALCOH team received a lot of positive feedback during the post-training evaluation. From these feedback, the capacity-building needs of health workers in the crisis-affected South West Region have been identified and projects have been written and proposed to sponsors. FALCOH is ‘leaving no one behind’, especially the individuals and families affected by the current crisis.